A little more than a year ago, BOOM! Studios partnered with Stan Lee and POW! Entertainment to introduce three brand new characters. With Stan and the creators devising brand new stories and characters, Soldier Zero, The Traveler, and Starborn were born. Now that each title has been completed in a 12 issue run, this week on Touring the Cosmos we will take a quick look at each title, and highlight a few of the cool moments from each book.
Soldier Zero was the first of the titles to premiere. BOOM! Studios put quite a bit into promoting this title, and it paid off as it became the highest selling BOOM! comic. Soldier Zero centers on Stewart Trautmann, a war veteran that lost the use of his legs in a bombing attack. After starting his career as an astronomy teacher and only being back home for a short time, Stewart is forced to bond to the alien warsuit Soldier Zero!
Soldier Zero was the only title to get a change in writers. Paul Cornell really had a good understanding of Stewart, and when DnA (Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning) took over it took about two issues for DnA to really catch a groove. Once they did, though, Soldier Zero finished really strongly. Javier Pina was solid throughout, really providing some great action shots. The colorists really made scenes pop, and worked great with Pina.
Soldier Zero was probably the character with the least amount of intricacies involved in his stories. Not to say this is a bad thing, because a lot of his inner struggles and dialog between the suit made up for this lack of drama. What really proved his strength of character and resolve was when Soldier Zero decided to battle the Inheritors (a far superior race of alien beings) in order to protect Earth. Pina provides excellent action sequences to go along with DnA’s stellar dialog between Soldier Zero and the Inheritors. A fine moment for the creative team, as well as the book’s title character.
Artist Khary Randolph highlights one of his favorite moments while working on Starborn:
In all honesty, my favorite moment of working on Starborn was drawing the very last page of the series. That sounds kinda weird, but stay with me here. I loved working on this book, but it was a struggle. I was running late, I had gotten very little sleep for the last two weeks trying to knock out pages and wrap up the run, and I knew that everyone was waiting on me. We had shipped every book on time (albeit definitely having a few close calls) and I was really afraid of messing up that run on this, the LAST issue. I was stressed out and at the end of my rope.
Putting down the last few pencil strokes on those pages, I just felt this crazy wave of ecstasy because it was dawning on me that I was wrapping up a large part of my life for the past year. To this point I had never poured so much blood, sweat and tears into anything in my life, and seeing the end of that tunnel I was just overtaken with a wave of emotions — sadness, exhaustion, relief, pride. I’m guessing it must be similar to what a marathon runner must feel when they see the finish line. I was delirious at the time. I know I started laughing like an idiot. I might have danced a little. I definitely bought a beer.
Starborn means a lot to me, and I’m thankful to have been a part of a tremendous team of individuals. We all worked really hard on that book. Damn hard. I can’t front, I look back on some of the stuff I did and straight up cringe. I learned a LOT over the past year. A lot about myself, my craft, and what it means to be an artist.
The Traveler was the title with some of the more experienced creators, in particular the writing. Mark Waid (Kingdom Come) was soon joined by Tom Peyer (Hourman, Sandman) to make for a fast paced time traveling tale. Ronald Lessik, a scientist working on the Unified Field Theory, was sabotaged by one of his own associates. An accident at the lab leads to his own time traveling powers, as well as granting powers to others in the lab. Lessik, now going by the name Kronus, uses his newfound abilities to save his love and lab associate Julia, who was lost in the lab accident.
Waid and Peyer are as experienced a team as any. Having written countless comics, they brought the right kind of skill for this kind of story. With so many twists when it comes to time travel, The Traveler took the right steps in completing a good story. With a mysterious start, revealing middle, and action packed finish, The Traveler has all the elements that provide a superb story. Hardin and Blond made for a great artistic combo, really adding to Waid and Peyer’s story. Hardin really excels at facial expressions and creating some excellent environments. Blond’s colors make Hardin’s art that much more dynamic.
The most fun in reading The Traveler comes from the love triangle of Kronus/Abaris/Julia. The main driving force of this story was to attain the love of Julia, however odd the methods. Abaris, aka Dr. Colding, has a deep and very disturbing love for Julia, and goes to some pretty terrible lengths to be with her. Kronus has to use some extreme lengths to keep Julia safe, risking all of his memories with her to save her. These character defining moments really move this title forward and make for some memorable scenes.
Colorist Blond highlights one of his favorite moments while working on The Traveler:
My favorite moment working on The Traveler was being able to use it as an excuse to introduce myself to Stan Lee. Though I really enjoyed the whole series, it was fun, fast, classic superhero fun.
Ben Warner works a lame day job. He spends his time writing science fiction stories about stuff he dreamed up as a kid. One crazy day, he learns that all those hours daydreaming as a kid are implanted memories coming to the surface. Chris Roberson and Khary Randolph bring to life the space epic Starborn.
Roberson and Randolph are making quite the name for themselves. Roberson has written Superman as well as iZombie for DC Comics. Randolph has drawn for Marvel and DC as well, and is currently working on Charismagic for Aspen. Along with Mitch Gerads, Roberson and Randolph have done some great work bringing Starborn to life. Roberson has crafted a deep story that comes together with Soldier Zero and The Traveler in a big way. Randolph provides a unique western/manga style with some extraordinary designs.
Starborn was a great “coming of age” tale. Ben Warner is a character that nearly anyone can relate to. A dreamer whose fiction has become reality is every fanboy’s wish. Learning how to use some amazing powers that have been bestowed upon him and coming to terms with the lineage he is a part of have made for some great moments. The finale for Starborn was a really defining moment and a definite highlight. Without spoiling too much, Ben learns how to wield his powers and status in a way that doesn’t involve violence, and saves many lives.
Writer Chris Roberson highlights one of his favorite moments while working on Starborn:
Working on Starborn has been filled with great moments, from the fantastic editorial team (Mark Waid, Bryce Carlson, and Matt Gagnon), to my amazing collaborators (Khary Randolph, Mitch Gerads, and Jonboy Meyers), to all of the cool things we got to put in the book, but bar none the highlight of the experience was the chance to meet Stan Lee in person and talk with him over a leisurely breakfast with Mark Waid and Paul Cornell about comics, movies, books, and everything else under the sun.